An entirely unexpected delight, 2014's The Lego Movie was much more fun than any film adapted from a toy had any right to be. It also made a ridiculous amount of coin, ensuring decades of spin-offs and sequels to come.
The Lego Batman Movie is the first to arrive (ahead of The Lego Ninjago Movie in September) and though it doesn't quite scale the surprisingly bountiful creative heights of its progenitor, it makes a strong argument for further exploration of this brick-centric cinematic universe.
As sardonically voiced by the sandpaper-throated Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman), Lego Batman provided several of The Lego Movie's best moments, and the rendition easily bears being the focus of his own film. It's a refreshingly light take on the character that stands in appreciable contrast to the overwhelming dourness that currently colours the live action DC superhero movies.
Arnett's inspired voice casting extends to the actors behind the supporting characters: Arch-enemy The Joker is played with vulnerable glee by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Ralph Fiennes (the Harry Potter films) offers a no-nonsense take on faithful butler Alfred and Arnett's Arrested Development nephew Michael Cera (Superbad) is utterly hilarious as a sensitive sidekick Robin.
The "plot" focuses on the relationship between Batman and The Joker and the film mines plenty of laughs from their dynamic, revealing a welcome emphasis on character humour that buoys the proceedings and should appeal to audience members of all ages.
As in The Lego Movie, there are plenty of meta-shenanigans - famous villains from other movies turn up, including a Jemaine Clement-voiced Sauron - and a huge number of visual references that will delight observant viewers.
Although the end result may feel a touch inconsequential, there's a huge amount of fun to be found in this sunny, nimble and witty film.
Cast: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Chris McKay
Rating: PG (violence)
Running time: 104 mins
Verdict: Almost as fun as actually playing with Lego